The Ethics of Prison Privatization

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How true is Christie’s warning that an increasingly privatized penal service threatens the ethics and effectiveness of the criminal justice system? More aspects of the penal system are now privatized, and are set to increase. This includes the privatization of such services as prisons, electronic tags, catering companies, probation work or prison escort services. David Taylor-Smith, head of the world’s biggest security firm, G4S says he expects private companies will be running large parts of the UK’s police service within five years (Taylor and Travis, 2012). Nils Christie’s text (2000) “Crime Control as Industry” draws upon increasing prison populations in the US. However reflecting upon that the prison population in England and…show more content…
The quotas insure private companies make a profit and reduce financial risk, though if the required occupancy rate is not met the outcome can be very negative for taxpayers, for example in the state of Colorado, due to three private prisons that didn’t meet the quota cost it taxpayers $2 million (In the Public Interest, 2013, 2). Criminal justice activists argue that the quotas promote legislation that push incarceration and negatively affect sentencing and criminal justice reforms (Lynch, 2013) and budgets are spent on bed space rather than important social services. In 2008 a 'kids for cash' scandal unfolded in Pennsylvania where judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan pleaded guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud. These offences involved an agreement between the judges and two private detention centres that they will be responsible for sending thousands of juveniles for a $2.6 million kickback (Urbina, 2009, 1). Judge Ciavarella sentenced juveniles to detention twice the state average in order to keep up with the deal. Both judges sent children to detention centres for minor offences that would usually be served with light punishment such as community service (Urbina, 2009, 2). Christie (2000, 14) believes that “the size of the prison population is a result of decisions. We are free to choose”, his conviction is very
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